[JPL] nyt obit: dewey redman
tr at wfcr.org
Mon Sep 4 08:52:14 EDT 2006
September 4, 2006
Dewey Redman, 75, Jazz Saxophonist, Dies
By BEN RATLIFF
Dewey Redman, an expansive and poetic tenor saxophonist and bandleader who had been at the aesthetic frontiers of jazz since the 1960's, died on Saturday in Brooklyn. He was 75 and lived in Brooklyn.
The cause was liver failure, said Velibor Pedevski, his brother-in-law.
Walter Redman was born and grew up in Fort Worth. He started off on clarinet at 13, playing in a church band. Not long after, he met Ornette Coleman when they both played in the high school marching band. Their friendship would become one of the crucial links in his life.
Typical of late-1950's jazz tenor saxophone players, Mr. Redman was informed by the sound and style of Dexter Gordon, John Coltrane and Sonny Rollins. But he didn't immerse himself in technique and harmonic theory, as those musicians did, or lead a band until his mid-30's. Until then, he said, he was largely playing by ear.
Consequently his playing always kept a rawness, a willingness to play outside tonality, a closeness to the blues and above all a powerful sound: an expressive, dark-toned, vocalized expression that he could apply in any situation. (This power could also come through his second instrument - he played a double-reed instrument he called a musette.) He has often been called a free-jazz musician, and he could indeed put a logic and personality into music that had no chord changes. But that designation doesn't acknowledge how authoritatively Mr. Redman could play a traditional ballad like "The Very Thought of You," or how his solos could become dramatic diversions in someone else's written music, as in parts of Tom Harrell's 1998 album "The Art of Rhythm."
After attending Prairie View A&M University in Texas, where he played alto and tenor saxophone in the college band, and then a stint in the Army, Mr. Redman taught fifth grade in Bastrop, Tex., near Austin. In 1959 he moved to Los Angeles and then San Francisco, playing with Pharoah Sanders, Donald Rafael Garrett and others.
Mr. Redman missed the ascension of his old friend Ornette Coleman, moving to New York to join the band only in 1967. His performances with Mr. Coleman over the next seven years, on albums like "New York Is Now!," "Love Call" and "Science Fiction," on which his tenor saxophone meshes with Mr. Coleman's alto, are good ways to understand some of the great jazz of the period, intuitively finding a third way between general conceptions of the jazz tradition and the avant-garde.
Mr. Redman also recorded with Charlie Haden's Liberation Music Orchestra in 1969 and then, beginning in 1971, spent five years off and on with a band known to historians as Keith Jarrett's American quartet, which included Mr. Jarrett, Mr. Haden and the drummer Paul Motian. Underrated by the public and ever important to musicians, it played a music that was more determined by harmonic structure than Mr. Coleman's, but equally challenging and prescient in its drive to make organic sense of various schisms in jazz since post-bop.
Mr. Coleman then provided the impetus for the next phase of Mr. Redman's work, but in absentia. Old and New Dreams was a quartet of mainstays from different Coleman bands: Mr. Redman, Mr. Haden, Don Cherry and Ed Blackwell. They recorded and toured from 1976 to 1984, relying mostly on Mr. Coleman's repertory. Though he had stopped playing with Mr. Coleman's bands, he never stopped proclaiming his admiration for his old friend's work and performed brilliantly during Jazz at Lincoln Center's 2004 concert of Coleman music, with Mr. Coleman in the audience.
>From the mid-60's on, Mr. Redman often led his own bands, usually quartets with piano, bass and drums; he recorded twice with his son Joshua Redman, the popular jazz saxophonist. Most recently his band included the pianist Frank Kimbrough, the bassist John Menegon and the drummer Matt Wilson. He played his final concert on Aug. 27 at the Charlie Parker Jazz Festival in Tompkins Square Park on the Lower East Side of Manhattan.
He is survived by his wife, Lidija Pedevska-Redman, and two sons Joshua, of Berkeley, Calif., and Tarik.
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